Left.ru ________________________________________________________________________________
Dave Silver


New York Metropolitan Humanist Society  Nov.26, 2002    Dave Silver

I want to examine some economic, ideological and political issues that are
either ignored or inadequately understood by many in the broad progressive
and Left movements.

The first is anti-communism, particularly in a liberal or Left disguise.  I
maintain that the primary global contradiction is still between
capitalism/imperialism and socialism however decimated at present.  This is
in contrast to a number of currents on the Left such as—neo-marxist, new
left and social democratic—that see the main contradictions in national
struggles and conflicts and therefore not international in scope.  All of
these movements seem to have at least one fundamental premise in common;  a
belief that “orthodox” or “traditional” Marxism is outmoded and no longer
the best guide for struggle and the eventual achievement of socialism.  They
seek, for instance to discredit those who are in solidarity with Socialist
Cuba which represents I believe a moral beacon and alternative to a global
corporate system which has led to war and fascism.

This is not a new phenomenon- Some revisionist predecessors go back to the
Frankfurt School of Sociology of the 20’s and 30’s that attempted to
synthesize Marx and Freud, (whom Bertold Brecht called the intellectual
pimps for bourgeoisie), to the Italian Phenomenological School of Marxism to
the Praxis group in Yugoslavia, the Marxists-Humanists of Poland to so
called Euro-communism of the 70’s.  In the guise of innovating and enriching
socialist movements they reject many of Marxism’s basic principles such as
class struggle.

In the past decade groups such as the Committees of Correspondence have
traveled down this revisionist road.  As the German Communist Robert
Steigerwald eloquently showed in his Anti-Communist Myths in Left Disguise,
that it is impossible to be anti-imperialist, anti-racist or progressive
when one buys into anti-communism for it is what Marx called an antagonistic

In a book review by Laura Secor  (NYT 11/3) of David Reif’s  Humanitarianism
in Crisis, she refers to the author’s use of the term “humanitarian
neutrality”which undergirds the politics of aid which allegedly is given to
alleviate suffering in the aftermath of serious conflicts.  Thus we see a
kind of moral warrant for non-intervention in Bosnia, but for intervention
in Kosovo and for the war in Afghanistan.  I am reminded of the poet Dante
who, over 200 years before Columbus, wrote that “the hottest places in hell
are reserved for those, who in times of great  moral crisis maintain their

The next question is one of institutionalized racism and its relation to
class.  Recognizing the dialectical interaction of class and race, Lenin
upgraded Marx’ famous quotation to Workers and Oppressed People Unite.  Many
folks who were influenced by libertarian and anarchistic thinking prevalent
in the 60’s, accuse us “hardliners”of rhetoric and sloganeering.   Let’s
look at this.  While we remember W.E. B. Dubois’ famous statement that the
problem of the 20th century is that of color, we should be reminded that in
1953 DuBois placed slavery and exploitation within the context of the
capitalist mode of production.  He later made it clear in his book Black
Reconstruction that behind the problem of race and color “lies the greater
problem which both obscures and implements it” referring to the profit
system and pointing to the few who live in comfort and luxury “even if the
price of this is poverty, ignorance and disease of the majority of their
fellow men.”

We see an inadequate analysis of race for instance impacting past
independent political movements such as the Peace and Freedom Party of the
60’s and the National Committee for Independent Political Action in the 80’
s.  The question of Black Liberation was viewed as a “special question”
rather than central to class struggles.  Besides all of the common and daily
effects of racism in employment, housing, health care and other areas I
believe the virus of racism also infects those for instance who equate the
desperate form of violence of suicide bombers with the US financed Israeli
state sponsored terrorism and their crimes against humanity.

 Many liberals and those who consider themselves progressive, particularly
among Jewish people also tend to forget or do not want to know that Zionism
is not an ethnic or cultural concept but a political ideology fueled by
racism that concludes that Jews are in fact “Chosen” while the “Others” are
lesser.  This is not different in kind to the Nazi labeling of Jews as
Untermenschen  or a kind of sub species.  This perception of the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict frequently leads to what I call the Israel Uber
Alles syndrome.  If this sounds rhetorical I remind you that just last month
the Chicago chapter of the Zionist Organization of America had as their
honored guest in a Salute to Israel dinner none other than the icon of the
Christian Right, Pat Robertson.

A few comments on Terrorism.   And by the way my living 5 blocks from
ground zero does not give me any special credentials.  Here again a class
analysis in an historical context is necessary.   Some significant facts;
Nearly half of the largest companies and banks in the world are U.S.
institutions and the world market is divided among 238 leading U.S. and 153
European multi-national enterprises.  The U. S. has about 50% of the world’s
wealth with only 6.3% of the population.  As sociologist James Petras aptly
notes that these facts “define the imperial nature of the world economy
characterized by control of markets, pillaging of raw materials and the
labor they exploit.”

My fundamental premise is that U.S. imperialist policies especially in the
past 25 years are the root causes of terrorism worldwide.  First there was
the red devil, then the drug devil and now the terrorist devil.   The study
of US foreign policy will show that both wings of the representatives of
Capital in the White House manufactured crises in order to justify war.
>From the bombing of the battleship Maine in the war of Spain and Cuba, to
Lyndon Johnson’s Tonkin Gulf Resolution to the alleged destruction of infant
incubators in Kuwait.  The current situation exhibits a sharpening of
contradictions within capitalism both economic and political.  The U.S. is
in a crisis that affects the largest transnational corporations which
according to Petras affects “the state in its relation to internal security
and external belligerence.”

In 1980 Jimmy Carter sent National Security Advisor Brezinski to the
Pakistan-Afghan border to make sure Bin Laden’s comrades had adequate
Intelligence and Stinger missiles because we didn’t like the idea of Soviet
support for the progressive and secular Najibullah regime in Kabul which
overthrew hundreds of years of a feudal oligarchy.   Whatever nasty military
stuff Sadaam Hussein has we can thank US imperialism when it thought the
bigger devil was in Teheran.   The US weapon of mass destruction we call
sanctions and which are responsible for the deaths over 150,000 Iraqi
children is not sufficient or quick enough for the Homeland Axis of Evil in
Washington.  We want to control the second largest oil deposits of Iraq in
order to protect the need of the corporate rulers to enhance capital
accumulation.  Imperialism will use the Yemen Precedent of 1990 when Yemen
cast the only NO vote for a war called Desert Storm.  The US immediately cut
off $70 million in aid to the poorest country in the Arab world.

For the first time preemptive strike and regime change was declared a
“right” of US imperialism as was “Manifest Destiny” of an earlier
colonialism.  As Phyllis Bennis, author of Private Planet observed that
capitalist society is “inextricably linked with democracy, efficiency and
openness.”  But the truth is that the reality of western power has its
ruinous effects on the victims of Africa, Asia and Latin America as well as
at home in which as Bennis notes “the beneficiaries of a
corporate system which is built on plunder, poverty, environmental
destruction and injustice.”

Finally some activists involved in various struggles continue to feed
illusions that the Democratic Party or a front such as the Working Families
Party can be part of a people’s solution.  They mistakenly advocate an
outside –inside strategy.  This approach continued to feed the illusion that
the Donkey Party could be “reformed” or “independent.”  Since the emergence
of the so called new left we find a new twist; the search for a hybrid
neither capitalist nor socialist.   It was fashionable in some Left currents
to use code words to mask their anti-Sovietism such as pluralism and
democratization and since 1990 the cutting edge word is Stalinism.  So
called Universal human values have replaced class struggle. This notion
echoes the counter revolutionary new thinking coined in 1988 by then Soviet
Foreign Minister Kozyrev called the “Convergence Theory” in which capitalism
and socialism were allegedly becoming more and more like each other.
Here in the belly of the beast we require an independent political Movement
informed with the consciousness of the common corporate enemy which alone
unites all of the crucial issues. The People’s Resistance from Seattle to
Genoa pointed in that direction.  Such a Movement is indispensable to
confront the creeping fascism of a Patriot Act, higher unemployment,
homelessness , cuts in services, inadequate health care, poverty and
functional illiteracy to name a few benefits of the market economy.  I
believe that a cutting edge struggle is the freedom of our political
prisoners not only the better known cases of Mumia Abu-Jamal and Leonard
Peltier, but also the Angola3 as well as the Puerto Rican freedom fighters
still behind bars and the recently incarcerated Cuban Five who were in the
US to obtain information to better combat the real terrorists and Cuban
Mafia in Miami.
Marx in his German Ideology said  the ideas of the ruling class are in
every epoch the ruling ideas; the class which is the ruling MATERIAL force
of society, is at the same time its ruling INTELLECTUAL force.  And that
philosophers have only contemplated the world.  It is time to change it.
Indeed it is.  Thank You.

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